After a rather long wagon ride, on Sunday, 23rd of June past, the Wahoo Base Ball Club of Royal Oak arrived in Mansfield, Ohio. They were there for 2 matches, to be played in the shadow of the strangely beautiful, yet haunting 100 year old Ohio State State Reformatory.
It was a warm afternoon, and getting warmer. The shade of the trees along the 1st sack line, gave a break from the heat to ballists from 3 Clubs, as well as a fine showing of cranks. The host Mansfield Independents graciously allowed the Wahoo’s to play the 1st of the 3 scheduled matches. The Alliance Cross Rails, in their sharp Scarlet and Gray uniforms, provided the challenge for the Royal Oak Nine.
The Rails started off with 3 tallies in their first chance striking, the Wahoo’s followed with 2 aces to keep it a close contest after 1 inning. With some more fine striking, the Alliance Gents brought around another 4 scores before 3 hands down could be collected against them. Not wanting to fall further behind, the Michigan Visitors also struck well and tallied 4 aces of their own. This kept the match close with the 7 to 6 advantage staying in the Cross Rails favor after 2 frames.
Some fine Royal Oak fielding held the Rails to 1 tally in the 3rd, but the Wahoo’s were unable to plates any runners in their 3rd, and 4th chance at the dish. Meanwhile, the “CR’s” opened up their lead with 5 well earned aces to make the tally count 13 to 6 through 4 frames.
Again, some well held one bound strikes by the Wahoo out – field, prevented the men in Red from scoring more than 1, the Royal Oakers needed a big inning now, to get back in this match, but also due to more fine plays in the field, they could only score 1 as well. The Cross Rails continued their well placed strikes, and rang the tally bell 3 more times in their 6th chance. In their last chance at the dish, the Wahoo’s were unable to score, and the match ended with the Alliance Club’s 17 aces, to the Royal Oak Gents 7. A well played contest by all, and the Wahoo’s appreciated the Independents loaning Doc to them. He had a well played match.
After a 15 minute period for some much needed refreshment, the Club from Royal Oak was as ready as they were going to be, to take on the host Mansfield Independents fine Gentlemen. The Cross Rails were able to join the cranks in the shade, and watch the 2nd challenge of the day.
Not sure if the heat of the day was really getting to the Wahoo’s, or if the fresh legs of the Mansfield Club was any help, but the Independents came out striking very well as they led off the contest. Seemed like every struck ball was perfectly placed by the Gents in their white uniforms. After what seemed like most of the afternoon, 3 hands down were finally gained against the Independents. The Wahoo’s were unable to tally anything, and the hosts had an early 7 to 0 advantage after only 1 inning.
Some fine fielding kept the Mansfield Nine away from the Scorers table in the 2nd frame, while the Visitors were able to get 3 tallys. The count was now 7 to 3. Continuing the well held catches, especially by the “loaner” ballist from the Cross Rails, the visitors once again prevented any Independents from crossing the dish. Everyone on the Wahoo’s resumed striking well in their 3rd chance, and rang the tally bell another 3 times to get back in the match, now trailing by only 1 score. 7 to 6.
The 4th inning was a scoreless one for both Clubs, due mainly to the continued fine play in the field. Mansfield was able to get a runner to gain the 2nd sack in their 5th inning, with only 1 hand down. The next striker hit a high 1 bound ball back to the Royal Oak hurler. The ol’ onion was held on the single bound to get the hand down on the striker, then a throw was made to the 3rd sack tender, who then put the tag on the runner. This finished the double play, and the inning for the Independents, the fourth such inning in a row without a tally. The Wahoo’s had a very tough time scoring as well, against the Home Gents fine defense. However they were able to scratch out 1 ace in their 5th at bat to tie the tally count at 7.
To start the 6th inning, the Mansfield Nine was once again able to get a couple men on the base paths. But once again, and for the 5th frame in a row, no Independents were able to ring the tally bell. With the match winding down, the Royal Oakers wanted desperately to break the even score. They went to work with their lumber, and the first 2 strikers gained the 1st and 3rd sacks. Two more well struck balls later, and the Wahoo’s had 2 aces to show for it. After 6 exciting innings of play, the visitors in Gray and Navy Blue had battled back, and now had a 2 tally advantage going into the final frame. 9 tallies to 7.
The Mansfield Club had no intention of giving up in this match. Their strikers found openings in the field, and in the blink of an eye, had 2 runners on the sacks. The next striker gained 1st base, with a well struck ball to the out field, the lead Gent on the paths was able to tally, but another runner was tagged out for the 1st hand down of the 7th inning. It was now a 9 to 8 ace count when the next striker stepped to the line. After a couple hurled pitches did not suit the striker, he did swing and hit the next pitch for a “hot daisy cutter” to the rover on the left side. A fine play was made to get the ball, and make a quick hurl to the
2nd sack tender to gain a forced 2nd hand down on the runner. With no time to spare, a fine throw was in turn made to the 1st sack tender, the ball was well held, and the striker was called for the 3rd hand down. The match ended on another fine double play by the Wahoo’s.
Both Clubs played very well, and it was one of the most exciting matches this writer had witnessed in some time. The 3rd and final match of this very warm afternoon was also a very exciting, well played, and even match. The Independents were able to edge out the Cross Rails in the final frame. All 3 Clubs had prevailed in 1 match, and come up short of aces in the other.
A fine job was done by the Umpire in judging all the matches, and thanks also to the tally keeper. Many thanks go out to the fine hosts of Mansfield for allowing us to partake in a afternoon of Gentlemanly Base Ball, on such a Historic site. It was a pleasure in meeting the Alliance Cross Rails, and once again seeing our friends the Independents. We look forward to another fine match or 2 with you next season, and we will see you in Columbus for the Ohio Cup on Labor Day weekend.